The parking lot was completely empty but I still screamed. I remembered how strong he felt when we hugged and knew I was done for. I looked up at the stars but it was mostly cloudy so I couldn’t see much of anything but the lamppost nearby. I tried real hard to leave myself but I couldn’t and that made me panic. I didn’t want to be in my body for what he was going to do to me. My knees and hands were all scraped up and killing me but I stopped moving even though this sharp, nervous pain was ripping through my chest. Manny licked my neck again and then my face and his hands were everywhere. I knew there would be bruises. I still couldn’t leave my body so I screamed again because what Manny was doing was so messed up. I used all the Spanish curse words I know, which are a lot because all the guys at work do is curse—pinche this and chinga that. I finally lay real still thinking if he thought I was dead he might stop. He was on top of me and looked at me, his eyes half-lidded, but I turned to the side. He didn’t deserve to look into my eyes and I don’t know why but suddenly he stopped and muttered, “Dios,” and got off me. That was one of the best feelings ever, that he decided to leave me alone. I stood, started to walk away as fast as I could. He grabbed my arm and said he didn’t rape me. It was ridiculous for him to split hairs like that. He said he would drive me home but he didn’t say he was sorry. That’s what he should have said. “Don’t fucking touch me,” I told him and I said, “Chinga tu madre,” because I know that’s serious business. I pulled my arm out of his hand and kept walking. I didn’t run because I read somewhere that when confronted by a rabid dog you should walk, not run, so as not to let them smell your fear.


I was too tired to walk home and I was sore and fed up with everything. I went to the bus stop in front of J.C. Penney’s and called Jason Miller. It felt like forever before he answered but he eventually did. I tried to explain I needed him but I couldn’t think right or say any words right and I could still see Manny sitting in his truck at the far end of the parking lot. I told Jason Miller I needed a ride really bad. Instead of hanging up, he asked me where I was and was super calm about it. He told me to hang tight and then my battery died so I sat there and hoped Jason Miller would actually come. Ten minutes later, Jason Miller’s car raced across the parking lot toward me like he was running from the devil. It was kind of awesome. He pulled up where the bus normally stops and didn’t even turn off his car. He just got right out and came into the shelter and when he looked at me he knew something totally fucked up had happened. He tried to come close but I slid all the way down to the end of the bench. I kept shaking and couldn’t say anything. I saw Manny slowly pull away and finally felt like I could breathe again. Jason Miller noticed me staring at Manny’s truck as it disappeared. He sat on the opposite end of the bench and said, “Look at me,” but I couldn’t. “OK,” Jason Miller said. “It’s going to be OK.” It got colder and I was so sore and tired. “Do you have a bathtub?” I finally asked, turning to look at him. He nodded and we stood and as I walked by him, Jason Miller handed me his hoodie. When I put it on and wrapped myself in the warmth from his body, I felt a little better.


We didn’t talk during the drive. I had nothing to say. One of his roommates was home when we got to his place and that asshole whistled as we walked through the living room and said, “Way to level up.” “Fuck off,” Jason Miller shouted and that made me feel good, that he wouldn’t let anyone treat me wrong when he was around. I sat on the edge of his bed while he ran me a bath and then he gave me some privacy. I tried to take the hoodie and my shirt off by myself but I pulled a muscle or something wrestling with drunk Manny. I sat on the toilet and called for Jason Miller. “I need help,” I said, “But I don’t want you to freak out if my body looks fucked up under my clothes.” He clenched his jaw and agreed and then he pulled my arms over my head and was so gentle taking my shirt off. It hardly hurt at all. I stood and he helped me with my jeans and underwear too and he hissed when he looked at me because my knees were scraped and my elbows were scraped and there were bruises everywhere and he started to say something but I shook my head. I said, “Don’t,” because it would hurt too much. Jason Miller helped me into the tub and it felt so good to be surrounded by hot water. I said, “You can stay.” I said, “Don’t go.” He sat on the toilet. He said, “You are so beautiful,” and then he said, “Tell me what happened.” I was so tired of always keeping terrible things to myself that I told him about Manny and Billy Tomasetti and the stupid losers I’ve slept with and this horrible thing I’ve never told anyone about and the whole time, Jason Miller listened close and careful. When I was done I said, “I get why you don’t want to fuck me,” and he said, “I want you real bad. I’m just waiting until you’re ready.”